Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This was our first Christmas since we have been in TN that we did NOT travel home to TX or have both sets of grandparents here at different times. What this meant was that we had ALL the gifts for our family, from Brent's parents, my grandmother, my great aunt and my parents under the tree at the same time. You could hardly see the tree. You must remember also that we had 2 more kids stuff under there too. It was a little nutty so we decided to do gift opening in "rounds". That proved to be a good plan. After each round we threw away all the paper, took stuff out of the box (which took all 5 of the adults we had to take stuff out of packages and put stuff together). Poor Brent was putting stuff together all afternoon :-) It was such a fun day and so many new memories.

I took this pic as the kids were waiting to run down the stairs on Christmas morning. To say they were excited was an understatement. By the time we took this picture they had already been up for about 45 min. We made them wait (mean I know) because my parents were sleeping downstairs and were tired from the long drive they had the day before from TX.

Jordan opening a present...
Hayley's gifts from Memaw and Poppy
Rachel was pure joy over every present!
Jordan's new watch from Nena and Pops
I loved this pic...just wish my dad's eyes were open :-)
My mom and Rachel
Whitney and my mom wearing her new hat, scarf and mittens from Meemee
We moved the coffee table against the wall so we had a big open space to open presents. It was a good move on our part.

I love the next 2 pictures. I took them as they opened their favorite present; an IPOD touch! These are going to be such a blessing to us the next time we make the drive to TX!
It was crazy, but Oh so fun! I was sad when it was all over! I LOVE Christmas, everything about it. We added some new traditions this year and my favorite was our advent calendar. We read a scripture, did an activity to go along with the scripture and then each had a piece of candy. It was a great way to have a devo every day and learn about all that Christmas means. We also did the candles on the advent wreath and it was neat at our big dinner on Christmas night to light all the candles and review all they had learned over the last 25 days.

Unlike many of you I have not started taking down decorations, but am planning to today. Blessings to you all...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

For all of you who have told me that you wish you could be a fly on my wall this Christmas, I am going to do my best to give you an accurate picture :-) It has been the best Christmas ever! Big families are SO fun during the holidays. I have been quiet on the blog for the past few weeks as we have been busy preparing for the holidays. I just can't get it all done. Today is my day off. I told everyone that Mom is not cooking or cleaning today. I have been working on downloading pics and watching the kids play with all their new stuff. We did take a break and head outside to enjoy sledding in the snow. I will show that in a later post :-)

We started a new tradition: Eating Ethiopian food for Christmas Eve. We went to our local ET restaurant and picked up some Injera, yellow pea and cabbage. This mom made Doro Wat, Gomen, Beef Tibs and red lentils. It was lots of fun and yummy too!

Doro Wat (Chicken stew)

After dinner we rolled out cookie dough and made cookies for Santa. We enjoyed eating a few too!

The First Gift of Christmas...Every year the kids open one gift on Christmas Eve. It is always new matching PJ's.

Christmas pics to follow...it was a GREAT one!

Monday, November 22, 2010

God Heals the Brokenhearted

The Lord is close the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Have you ever watched someone who is brokenhearted and crushed in Spirit heal? We have a CD called "Seeds of Courage" that has scripture with a courage theme set to music. One of the songs my kids sing in the car is the above scripture. As I was driving yesterday those words came alive for me and I was overcome with emotion. The Holy Spirit comforted me in those moments when He reminded me that He is the only one who can comfort and He is our healer. As we are watching our children grieve and heal from so much trauma I realized that the Lord IS close to them.

We just completed 3 months home. Many people said that 3 months was a pivotal point and there would be marked improvement. The improvement may not seem like improvement to most. It is characterized by anger & frustration followed by gut wrenching sobbing. I am no trained counselor, but fortunately God is! He has used me and given me the necessary words when I needed them to draw out the pain.

No child should ever have to endure what my kids have. Life is NOT fair! I have to trust who God is right now and know that although I don't understand, this is what He orchestrated for both us and them. He chose them to be in our family and He moved mountains to get them here. I cannot fix anything, I can only love and be available and allow God to work. It is TOUGH!

We appreciate all your prayers. I know that the prayers of many have sustained us. Please continue to pray for our kids to heal and for us to have wisdom to deal with each situation that arrises. This has been an amazing adventure with both highs and lows. I never experienced God the way I have the last 6 months. There is not greater joy than to walk humbly with my God...

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Have a great week! We have SO, SO much to be thankful for here in America!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Clearview's Orphan Day Slideshow

We have a team at Clearview starting a new ministry to support adoption, orphan care, & foster care. We planned our first "Orphan Sunday" and it was a HUGE success! Our pastor has a heart for this area of ministry and he preached about the church's role in this area. We took up an offering that day to start a Lifesong account for our church. This account would allow us to help fund adoptions through no interest loans and hopefully, in the future, grants. Our church body has responded with $53,800 to date!!!

One member of our team, Emily Jenkins, put together this slide show that we showed during the service. I thought you would enjoy it too :-)

By the way... Emily and I were on the phone for an hour a couple of days ago trying to think of a name for this ministry. We want something that will speak to all the areas of the ministry, not just adoption. If you have any ideas you are willing to share, please email me or comment to this post. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One Way to Help AND Have FUN!

A "Shout out" for some friends of ours. Three wonderful families are hosting this fundraiser on Saturday:

Fundraiser Flyer

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pure & Faultless Religion...Celebrating Orphan Sunday

I wrote the following post yesterday BEFORE church. Because I am NOT a computer whiz, I did not know how to include the video at the bottom. Once I figured it out it was SO easy. Even though it is posted on MONDAY morning, it was written on SUNDAY morning :-)

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, this is National Adoption Month and today is a worldwide event called "Orphan Sunday". Last year at this time I had no idea what the statistics were around the world of how many children were living without parents. They have no one to hug them when they fall, to feed them, to clothe them or to tuck them in bed at night.

I have always had a heart to help children and had even investigated foster care at one point, BUT I had NO IDEA how BIG this problem is. What is worse, I had grown up in the church and did not know what the Bible says is our responsibility as the body of Christ to ALL be caring for these children. I am excited to tell you that our church will no longer be skimming over the issue. We will no longer ignore the plea. I have a feeling that today God is gonna move and our hearts will break for what breaks HIS. We are celebrating Orphan Sunday for the first time this year and getting the message out.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:27

I am going to leave you with a video today. Please watch it :-) Don't say you didn't know!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Going to the Chapel...

Here are the long awaited wedding pics. We all had a blast. Rachel felt like a real live princess and probably thought her Aunt Kelly was one as she had never been to a wedding or seen anyone wear a dress like that before! The whole trip was a great bonding experience.

Poppy and Jordan

Above and below: Everyone fell asleep in the car ride from where we were staying to the church. Everything in Houston is a drive. We always feel like we spend our time there driving :-)

Rachel and Jordan, being excellent host and hostess, passing out programs.
A quick family pic after the ceremony.

Ryan dancing with my mom, "Nena". She did great considering that just 6 months ago I was in TX caring for her as she had fallen and broken her hip.

There were many more great pics taken of the kids dancing and of Brent and I, but unfortunately, none of them were on my camara.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

National Adoption Month

Many of you know that this is National Adoption Month. In addition, this Sunday is Orphan Sunday. In order to celebrate, I thought I would link you back to the many good stories, blog posts and songs that are ending up in my inbox these days. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE getting to meet and associate with all the amazing people God has put in our path over this last year. I get emails daily from others somewhere in the process of adoption. It is an amazing encouragement to me and our family.

Today, a friend sent out a link to a blog post by another adoptive mommy. It is from "It's Almost Naptime" and the post is entitled "I don't want my children to be Happy." It was written back in February, but is so appropriate for the month of November I thought I would share it all with you. It sums up much of how we feel about things too. Enjoy :-)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

To Texas and Back

I can't believe how long it takes me to get a post done these days! Life is soooo busy :-) I enjoyed my weekend off last weekend and my visit with my sweet cousin Heather. She and I both needed some time away to catch up and encourage one another. I thought while we were away that I would get caught up on things like the blog, but we just got caught up with each other :-)

These are pics from our trip to Houston. We went down a few weeks ago for Brent's sister's wedding. We were ALL in it and I was really anxious about making the trip. It was the first trip we have made since bringing R & J home and it was a BIG one. We had enough free tickets for all of us to fly down, but not to fly home. That proved to be a great way to do it; only having to drive one way. The kids had an absolute blast and want to know when we are going back. I have another post coming after this one that has all the wedding pics. The wedding was SO fun and my in-laws and sister-in-law are to be commended for a job well done. Everything looked beautiful and went off without a hitch!

Above: We stayed at my cousin's house and she has a 3 mo old and an 18 mo old. Rachel loves babies and took to them right away. They loved her too!
Below: Rachel and my grandmother, her great-grandmother, meeting for the first time.

Above: Ryan taking his turn holding baby Knox. He was a novelty for the weekend!
Since we used to live in the Houston area we know LOTS of people there: friends and family. They all wanted to stop by and meet our new kiddos. I think we counted at one time we had almost 20 kids there. Below is a pic of a bunch of them...

Above: We met these guys in college. Brent and Kelvin were roommates and Kelvin and Elizabeth started dating about the same time Brent and I did. We were all in each other's wedding and have stayed close over the years. Elizabeth and I both have large extended families and it has been fun to get to know her large family over the years. They have decided to adopt from Ethiopia as well and are almost finished with their paperwork.
Below: Two of my cousins closest in age to me. I have a total of 13 and we all grew up VERY close. They all have sisters. I am the only one of the bunch that does not so I consider them the closest thing I have to a sister ;-).

Above: Whitney swinging with her cousins. My kids do not have 1st cousins since Brent and I's siblings are so much younger so we consider my cousin's kids their cousins :-)

Above: This is my sweet friend Tania. She was one of my first friends when we moved to Spring in 2000. She is a great encouragement and prayer warrior!
Below: Since we flew down, we had to rent a car to drive home. Brent went to pick up our mini van and came back with this 15 passenger van. He thought the bigger the better for our 14 drive home! The kids called it our bus and thought it was super cool :-)

Hopefully, I will have time to get the wedding pics posted soon. Until then, have a great, fun, fall weekend!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Whitney!

Whitney's birthday this year was the birthday that never ended! We had Ryan's party a few weeks late and Whitney's a few weeks early so the parties ended up being 2 Sundays in a row. Whit and I had planned to travel to TX on her actual birthday so we could help get ready for Kelly's wedding. Sooo, we celebrated her actual b-day with the immediate family a day early. The pic below is of her sucking her lollipop as we took off on the plane to go to TX. Of course the grandparents were excited to have her on her actual birthday and had a cake & presents waiting. Then at the rehearsal dinner we had cake again in honor of Whit.

Whit with our waitress at Logan's on her "birthday" a day early with the family
Her new pink pillow pet which has now replaced her regular pillow :-)

Whit with our neighbors who we carpool with for school on her "day early birthday"
The birthday child always gets to eat on the "You are Special Today" plate

Whit with her cake at her Cheerleader party

We had two cheerleaders from a local high school come and teach the girls some cheers. They stayed and played with them and the girls loved them!

Mommies standing by watching the girlies
Doing the cheers...

Whit and Lizzie

Whitney started asking last October when her birthday would happen again. She has been anxiously awaiting this day for a whole year! We have a break from birthdays until December. Stay tuned for our wedding celebration and fun fall pics...